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July 16, 2006

Voto Por Voto Vote Fraud

Another election, another stolen result. This time, for President of Mexico. Greg Palast went to Mexico to look into what happened, and his 15-minute documentary video is available at Democracy Now. Here are excerpts from Democracy Now's transcript:

GREG PALAST: So my first stop was to meet one of Mexico's top numbers experts, statistician Victor Romero of Mexico's National University. Dr. Romero had charted the official government elections returns from each of Mexico's 113,000 voting stations. [...]

On a computer printout, Dr. Romero showed how the official tallies matched the exit polls, with challenger Lopez Obrador ahead by 2% all night. That is, until the very end, when several precincts came in for the ruling party by 10-to-1, and then 100-to-1, putting their candidate Felipe Calderon over the top, literally in the last minutes. The doctor found that statistically improbable.

VICTOR ROMERO: We reached the point I said, "It's over." But then, from 71% 'til the very end, there was not a single moment in which the difference from one report to the next became bigger.

GREG PALAST: So it didn't change at all. Just was perfect.

VICTOR ROMERO: Perfect, perfect. And so we just couldn't believe it. I mean, it fell — with 5% to go, it fell one full point. [...]

GREG PALAST: The results may not seem so miraculous if you take a look at these voter sheets. This is from a district in Guanajuato, which shows that Calderon picked up 192 votes, but Obrador, the challenger, got only 12. And here's how this miraculous total can be explained. We were given a videotape of a poll worker, seen here stuffing ballots into the unguarded cardboard ballot box. Mexico has virtually zero ballot security in rural areas. There is no system for accounting for unused paper ballots. Stuffing them into the cardboard boxes is absurdly easy.

Despite the evidence of ballot stuffing, the conflict with exit polls and the miraculous returns, the Federal Election Commission in Mexico named Calderon the winner by a margin thin as a tortilla, by less than 0.5%. The rush to announce a winner was all the more surprising given the wave of other reported irregularities. This is Cesar Yanez who directed the campaign for Lopez Obrador’s party, the PRD. He noted there were 300,000 fewer votes for president than for senator, a drop-off that voting experts say never happens without fraud. Yanez guessed maybe they ate their votes.

The Federal Election Commission's rush to announce a winner caught my attention because of the astonishingly high pile of supposedly uncountable votes: nearly one million blank unreadable ballots, four times the alleged margin of victory. The smell of Florida was unmistakable. In the 2000 U.S. election, Florida's Secretary of State Katherine Harris stopped a hand count of 179,000 supposedly blank ballots. Mexico's Electoral Commission, taking the exact same stance as Harris, is refusing to have a public hand count of those supposedly blank one million ballots.

Yanez noted that the commission agreed to open a fragment of 1% of the ballot packets. In most cases, ballots that were totaled as blank were, in fact, votes for Obrador. Each box opened produced enough newfound votes for Obrador that opening all the boxes should statistically change the outcome of the election. But all the boxes won't be opened. The ruling party, the PAN, and the Electoral Commission refuse a full public recount, and the government says that it's over.

Felipe Calderon and his ally George Bush say it's all over, but there are hundreds of thousands of people here who say, not until all the votes are counted one by one. On Saturday, half a million Obrador supporters filled the capital to make one simple demand: voto por voto, count every vote. [Emphasis added]

If this all sounds like the last two presidential elections here in the US, that's not entirely coincidental. It turns out that the Bush regime, through private contractor ChoicePoint, Inc., was very much involved in Mexico's election. Palast again:

GREG PALAST: We have obtained from U.S. FBI files a copy of a secret government contract with a private firm, ChoicePoint of Alpharetta, Georgia. ChoicePoint, you may recall, is the company that provided a list to Katherine Harris in 2000, which permitted her office to wrongly scrub thousands of African Americans from Florida voter rolls.

ChoicePoint, this document indicates, was back in the vote list business in Mexico at the request of the Bush administration. While the cover of their September 2001 contract says it is to gather intelligence for counterterrorism investigations, the still classified appendix, which we have, clarifies that the contract is limited to gathering citizen files and voter lists of Latin American nations, specifically those nations which have leftist presidents or leading leftist candidates for president.

The company, we have learned, did, in fact, obtain the voter files of Venezuela and Mexico for the FBI. It's difficult to imagine how these files will help in the war on terror, but they can be very useful in influencing Latin American elections. And, indeed, we filmed voters in Mexico who found themselves mysteriously scrubbed from voter rolls.

SCRUBBED VOTER: I wasn't able to vote. I wasn't on the list. I waited seven hours here for nothing, seven hours in the rain, seven hours hungry, just so the electoral representatives could laugh at me. The Electoral Commission is a real fraud. I tell you that as a Mexican.

GREG PALAST: In Mexico City, I met with an Obrador supporter who discovered that, in fact, the ruling party, the PAN, had somehow got a hold of the voter files. She discovered this information after she obtained the secret passwords to the party's website from a whistleblower. We were not allowed to film her face.

OBRADOR SUPPORTER: I can't tell you how they were using this information, but I can assure you this is illegal. This is a crime.

GREG PALAST: Are you aware of the fact that a contractor for George Bush and the U.S. FBI obtained all these citizen files?

OBRADOR SUPPORTER: Yes, ChoicePoint was the name of the company who got that. Yes, we were aware of that.

GREG PALAST: But we don't know where this information comes from?

OBRADOR SUPPORTER: We know that it’s in the official page of the candidate.

GREG PALAST: But they’re not supposed to have these for these purposes?

OBRADOR SUPPORTER: No, no, no. They’re not supposed to have it. And, of course, they are by no way supposed to use it. That's a crime.

GREG PALAST: But it could be very helpful.

OBRADOR SUPPORTER: Well, much more than we ever thought. [Emphasis added]

Here in the US, one pair of brothers, long backed by ultra-right-wing Christian Reconstructionist money, are technical principals behind the two companies (Diebold and ES&S) that count 80% of US black-box electronic votes. The Mexican equivalent? Palast again:

GREG PALAST: Our source believes that the vote-counting software was key to the election victory. She showed us proof that the candidate's brother-in-law was paid to write the vote-counting software.

Was the election stolen?

OBRADOR SUPPORTER: Yes, we can be sure of that. The election was definitely stolen. And people should be there counting the votes one by one. Democracy doesn't have a time limit. [...]

GREG PALAST: Why would the Bush administration be so concerned about the presidency of Mexico? There are many issues, but one stands out. It's the oil. [Emphasis added]

This is how modern elites have solved the pesky problem of ordinary people getting to vote. Make it look like democracy, let us vote, but control the results. Anybody complains, turn it into a he-said-she-said dispute or put it down to sour grapes and conspiracy theories. Quickly move on to the next story. Done. Nor is it limited to any one nation: elites are globalized, even if we aren't.

Here's what scares me. So far, election fraud has been applied in cases where the pre-election polls were close. In US elections this fall, polls may not be so close, but I think we're going to see some significant election meltdowns anyway. In Ohio, for instance, where Kenneth Blackwell continues to control the electoral process even as he himself runs for governor. I.e., vote fraud is going mainstream. It's going to be more and more blatant, more and more out in the open, but the mainstream media will pretend nothing's happening. We'll see black, they'll say white.

The cognitive dissonance will cause a lot of people to just throw up their hands and say, well that's how elections are now. Nobody knows who really won. And anyway, they're all crooks, on both sides. (All the reports of Washington corruption just feed into this perception.) If that happens, elections will be just another tv show with a predetermined outcome. Democracy will be over.

(For more background on recent US vote fraud, click the Vote Fraud link on the home page.)

Posted by Jonathan at July 16, 2006 07:39 PM  del.icio.us digg NewsVine Reddit YahooMyWeb


Re : Howard Ahmanson Jr.'s alleged connection to Diebold.

Hi, I like your coverage of the Mexican voting story but have one correction to suggest :

Howard Ahmanson Jr. was not the funder who financed the Urosevich brother's entrance into the e-voting business.

Ahmanson Jr. is in fact estranged from his family, and it was other members of the Ahmanson family not connected to Christian reconstructionism who originally funded the Urosevich brothers.

Posted by: at July 18, 2006 12:32 PM

Just a note to all those who think a paper printout on e-voting machines will solve the corruption problem, think again. A recount of the printouts would only happen if there's a reason to. The electronic data could be easily manipulated in secret, and so-long-as there are no remarkable reasons for a recount of the paper tallies, the election will be corrupt.

The only way e-voting can be reliable is to:

1. Make the hardware, firmware and software all open source for all the worlds’ engineers to dissect.

2. Allow public inspection of e-voting machines in the days just before voting takes place.

3. No networking between voting sites. It’s not needed and prevents wide-spread virus attacks.

4. No wireless networking anywhere. It’s been proven that today’s wireless networks are too easy to hack - even with something as simple as a PDA - which fit nicely out-of-site in a pocket or purse.

5. Have all counting done electronically at the local level and the tallied results faxed to a central location. Keep in mind the most time consuming task of national elections is counting the votes at the district level. So the time it would take to fax district totals to a central location is negligible. The time required to tally the district totals is also negligible. If the fax fails the results can be phoned in, but a fax leaves a paper trail and is therefore desirable.

6. Strong encryption and proper, locally controlled password protection go without saying.

7. And yes, a paper printout of each vote in case the electronic data becomes corrupt. Duh.

Posted by: Jeff at July 18, 2006 04:31 PM